In 1908, teams from four countries — the United States, France, Germany, and Italy — raced from New York to Paris by driving across the American west, and the frozen Bering Strait:

The contestants represented an international roster of personalities. G. Bourcier de St. Chaffray, driving the French De Dion, once organized a motorboat race from Marseille to Algiers that resulted in every single boat sinking in the Mediterranean. His captain was Hans Hendrick Hansen, a swashbuckling Norwegian who claimed to have sailed a Viking ship, solo, to the North Pole. He declared that he and his companions would reach Paris or “our bodies will be found inside the car.” Frenchman Charles Godard, driving the Moto-Bloc, participated in the Peking-to-Paris race without having driven a car and set an endurance record by driving singlehandedly for 24 hours nonstop.

“Paris or Bust: The Great New York-to-Paris Auto Race of 1908.” — Karen Abbott, Smithsonian

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